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Today in Hockey History: May 26 – Hockey Writers – Hockey History

In Steel Town, USA, Hockey fans look back on May 26 with a lot of love. In addition, this day was huge in coaching change in the National Hockey League, and also saw the beginning of a new tradition after winning the Stanley Cup. Let’s start our daily journey through the years to relive all the high moments.

The Pittsburgh Penguins Rule the Day

May 26th has given Penguins fans plenty of reasons to be happy over the years. Since 1986, when Mario Lemieux won the Lester Pearson award presented to the best player in the NHL, as voted by members of the NHL Players Association. Lemieux scored 48 goals and 141 points in his second full season in the league. Today, this trophy is known as the Ted Lindsay Award.

On May 26, 1992, the Penguins opened the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks, who entered the series with an NHL record winning streak of 11 games. They seem to go well to 12th outright victory by leading 4-1 midway through the second half.

Rick Tocchet and Lemieux started the comeback by lighting the lamp to cut Chicago’s lead to 4-3 before the second intermission. Jaromir Jagr tied the score with less than five minutes to play before Lemieux scored again with 13 seconds left on the clock to secure a 5-4 victory.

Lemieux won Game 1 of the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Fast forward to 2009, where the Penguins won their second straight Eastern Conference championship on this day. They beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 to end their four-game streak and return to the Stanley Cup Finals where they will face the Detroit Red Wings, who beat them in 2008.

The Penguins earned another trip to the Stanley Cup Final on May 26, 2016. This time they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. Rookie Bryan Rust scored both goals for Pittsburgh as they returned to the championship series for the first time since 2009.

A New Culture is Born

The Edmonton Oilers beat the Boston Bruins 6-3 on May 26, 1988, in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals. This completed a four-game sweep even though it was the fifth game after a power outage ended the previous game in Boston. In his final game with the Oilers, Wayne Gretzky had a goal and two assists to become the first player in NHL history to score 250 points in the postseason. The Oilers also became the first team to win 11 home games in a single playoff year.

Shortly after winning their fourth Stanley Cup in the past five seasons, the Oilers gathered around the biggest trophy in sports for a photo. They were the first group to do that, which has become a common practice these days.

Training Shuffle

On May 26, 1978, the Vancouver Canucks hired Harry Neale as the sixth head coach in team history. He replaced Orland Kurtenbach. Neale led the Canucks to the playoffs in his first three seasons. His tenure as coach ended in 1982 after a 10-game suspension for an altercation with a fan in Quebec. Roger Neilson took over and led the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Finals. Neale was promoted to general manager at the end of the season in a deal made before the suspension.

The Toronto Maple Leafs hired Dan Maloney as their head coach on May 26, 1984. He took over from Mike Nykoluk. He only spent two seasons behind the bench.

The Blackhawks named Bob Murdoch as their new head coach on May 27, 1987. Murdoch was the 27th head coach in Chicago team history. The 1987-88 season was the only one Murdoch spent as the head coach of the Blackhawks. He later became the head coach of the Winnipeg Jets in 1989, replacing Maloney.

The Montreal Canadiens hired Alain Vigneault as their new head coach on May 26, 1997, the 25th in team history. Vigneault replaced Mario Tremblay, who resigned after the 1996-97 NHL season. He led the Canadiens to the playoffs in his first season but failed to secure a spot in the following second season. He was fired after a 5-13-20 start to the 2000-01 season and replaced by Michel Therrien.

Vigneault was hired by Montreal on this day in 1997. (Photo: Jim Cerny/The Hockey Writers)

On May 26, 2004, the Florida Panthers named Mike Keenan as their new general manager and Jacques Martin as their new head coach. The move came two days after the team fired general manager Rick Dudley.

Odds & Ends

Bobby Hull was awarded the Hart Trophy, on May 26, 1966, for being the NHL’s most valuable player. He scored 54 goals and 97 points in 65 games to help the Blackhawks win the Hart for the second consecutive season.

The Bruins acquired Rick Middleton on May 26, 1976, from the New York Rangers, in exchange for Ken Hodge. Middleton played 12 seasons in Boston, scoring 402 goals and 898 points in 881 games. Hodge was nearing the end of his career and played just over one season with the Rangers.

Rick Middleton Terry O'Reilly Ray Bourque Bruins 1980
Middleton (16) was added to the mix in Boston on this day in 1976. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The following year, on May 26, 1977, the Quebec Nordiques defeated the Jets 8-2 to win the 1977 Avco Cup as World Hockey Association champions. This would be the franchise’s last championship until they won the 1996 Stanley Cup as the Colorado Avalanche.

On May 26, 1987, Brian Propp tied a team record with four assists as the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Oilers 4-3 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Flyers went on to win Game 6 to force a final game after trailing 3-1 in the series, but were unable to complete the comeback.

Neal Broten was the hero of the New Jersey Devils on May 26, 1995. His second goal of the night, in overtime, gave the Devils a 2-1 victory over the Penguins in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final. This was Broten’s lone extra time in his 17-season NHL career.

Neal Broten
Broten was the Devils’ hero on May 26, 1995. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

The Dallas Stars beat the Avalanche 3-0 on May 26, 1999, in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final. Ed Belfour made 34 saves to record his sixth shutout, while Joe Nieuwendyk scored a goal and added two assists in the victory.

Two years later, the Avalanche beat the Devils 5-0 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Goaltender Patrick Roy made 25 saves to earn his 18th playoff shutout and ninth straight Finals win. Joe Sakic was Colorado’s offensive hero with two goals.

Joe Sakic Patrick Roy Colorado Avalanche
Sakic and Roy combine for the win on May 26, 2002. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Rangers secured elimination on May 26, 2015, with a 7-3 victory over the Lightning in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Derick Brassard led the offensive attack with two assists to go along with his hat trick. Both JT Miller and Rick Nash finished the game with a goal and three assists.

Andrei Vasilevskiy recorded another shutout in the playoffs as the Tampa Bay Lightning dispatched the Florida Panthers 4-0 in Game 6 on May 26, 2021. He made 29 saves in the win as his team advanced to the second round. Vasilevskiy repeated the feat nearly a year later on May 23, 2022, as he made 49 saves in a 2-0 Game 4, shutout sweep to help his team advance to another Eastern Conference final.

That same night, the Minnesota Wild avoided elimination by the Vegas Golden Knights with a 3-0 win in Game 4 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Cam Talbot made 23 saves in the shutout and Kevin Fiala and Jared Spurgeon both recorded two points to lead the Wild offense.

The Islanders advanced to the second round on this day in 2021 with a 5-3 victory over the Penguins. Brock Nelson had two goals and an assist in the win. With his two assists in the loss, Evgeni Malkin passed Lemieux on the franchise’s all-time playoff scoring list. He is now second only to Crosby.

On this day in 2022, Connor McDavid hit the game-winner in overtime to eliminate the Oilers’ provincial rival Calgary Flames in five games and advance to the Western Conference Final. Leon Draisaitl had four assists to pace the offense as the Oilers won 5-4.

happy Birthday to you

There are 20 players born on May 26 who will play in the NHL. The most prominent names in this group are PJ Stock (49), Jimmy Vesey (31), Josh Leivo (31), Mathew Barzal (27), Logan Stanley (26) and Trey Fix-Wolansky (25).

*Originally created by Greg Boysen

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